The Texts of Taoism: Part II

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  1. Online Library of Liberty
  2. Taoist Sacred Texts - Caroline Myss
  3. Related Content
  4. Taoist Views on Karma

In the Grand Beginning of all things there was nothing in all the vacancy of space; there was nothing that could be named It was in this state that there arose the first existence 23 ;—the first existence, but still without bodily shape. From this things could then be produced, receiving what we call their proper character That which had no bodily shape was divided 25 ; and then without intermission there was what we call the process of conferring The two processes continuing in operation, things were produced.

As things were completed, there were produced the distinguishing lines of each, which we call the bodily shape. That shape was the body preserving in it the spirit 27 , and each had its peculiar manifestation, which we call its Nature. When the Nature has been cultivated, it returns to its proper character; and when that has been fully reached, there is the same condition as at the Beginning. That sameness is pure vacancy, and the vacancy is great.

It is like the closing of the beak and silencing the singing of a bird. That closing and silencing is like the union of heaven and earth at the beginning The union, effected, as it is, might seem to indicate stupidity or darkness, but it is what we call the 'mysterious quality' existing at the beginning ; it is the same as the Grand Submission to the Natural Course. The Master 29 asked Lao Tan, saying, 'Some men regulate the Tao as by a law , which they have only to follow;— a thing, they say, is admissible or it is inadmissible; it is so, or it is not so. They are like the sophists who say that they can distinguish what is hard and what is white as clearly as if the objects were houses suspended in the sky.

Can such men be said to be sages 30? Khiu, I tell you this;—it is what you cannot hear, and what you cannot speak of:—Of those who have their heads and feet, and yet have neither minds nor ears, there are multitudes; while of those who have their bodies, and at the same time preserve that which has no bodily form or shape, there are really none. It is not in their movements or stoppages, their dying or living, their falling and rising again, that this is to be found. The regulation of the course lies in their dealing with the human element in them.

When they have forgotten external things, and have also forgotten the heavenly element in them, they may be named men who have forgotten themselves. The man who has forgotten himself is he of whom it is said that he has become identified with Heaven I declined, on the ground that I had not received any message 34 for him.

Afterwards, however, I told him my thoughts. I do not know whether what I said was right or not, and I beg to repeat it to you. I said to him, "You must strive to be courteous and to exercise self-restraint; you must distinguish the public-spirited and loyal, and repress the cringing and selfish;—who among the people will in that case dare not to be in harmony with you?

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Online Library of Liberty

And moreover, if he guided himself by your directions, it would be as if he were to increase the dangerous height of his towers and add to the number of his valuables collected in them;—the multitudes of the people would leave their old ways, and bend their steps in the same direction. Kiang-lu Mien was awe-struck, and said in his fright, 'I am startled by your words, Master, nevertheless, I should like to hear you describe the influence which a ruler should exert. Would such an one be willing to look up to Yao and Shun in their instruction of the people as his elder brothers?

He would treat them as his juniors, belonging himself to the period of the original plastic ether His wish would be that all should agree with the virtue of that early period , and quietly rest in it. Dze-kung had been rambling in the south in Khu, and was returning to Zin. As he passed a place on the north of the Han, he saw an old man who was going to work on his vegetable garden.

He had dug his channels, gone to the well, and was bringing from it in his arms a jar of water to pour into them. Toiling away, he expended a great deal of strength, but the result which he accomplished was very small. Dze-kung said to him, 'There is a contrivance here, by means of which a hundred plots of ground may be irrigated in one day. With the expenditure of a very little strength, the result accomplished is great.

Taoist Sacred Texts - Caroline Myss

Would you, Master, not like to try it? It raises the water as quickly as you could do with your hand, or as it bubbles over from a boiler. Its name is a shadoof. But, when there is a scheming mind in the breast, its pure simplicity is impaired.

When this pure simplicity is impaired, the spirit becomes unsettled, and the unsettled spirit is not the proper residence of the Tao. It is not that I do not know the contrivance which you mention , but I should be ashamed to use it. At these words Dze-kung looked blank and ashamed; he hung down his head, and made no reply. After an interval, the gardener said to him, 'Who are you, Sir? A disciple of Khung Khiu,' was the reply. The other continued, 'Are you not the scholar whose great learning makes you comparable to a sage, who make it your boast that you surpass all others, who sing melancholy ditties all by yourself, thus purchasing a famous reputation throughout the kingdom?

If you would only forget the energy of your spirit, and neglect the care of your body, you might approximate to the Tao. But while you cannot regulate yourself, what leisure have you to be regulating the world? Go on your way, Sir, and do not interrupt my work. Sze-kung shrunk back abashed, and turned pale. He was perturbed, and lost his self-possession, nor did he recover it, till he had walked a distance of thirty li. His disciples then said, 'Who was that man? Why, Master, when you saw him, did you change your bearing, and become pale, so that you have been all day without returning to yourself?

I have heard the Master say that to seek for the means of conducting his undertakings so that his success in carrying them out may be complete, and how by the employment of a little strength great results may be obtained, is the way of the sage. Now I perceive that it is not so at all. They who hold fast and cleave to the Tao are complete in the qualities belonging to it. Complete in their bodies, they are complete in their spirits. To be complete in spirit is the way of the sage. Such men live in the world in closest union with the people, going along with them, but they do not know where they are going.


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Vast and complete is their simplicity! Success, gain, and ingenious contrivances, and artful cleverness, indicate in their opinion a forgetfulness of the proper mind of man.

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These men will not go where their mind does not carry them, and will do nothing of which their mind does not approve. Though all the world should praise them, they would only get what they think should be loftily disregarded; and though all the world should blame them, they would but lose what they think fortuitous and not to be received;—the world's blame and praise can do them neither benefit nor injury.

Such men may be described as possessing all the attributes of the Tao , while I can only be called one of those who are like the waves carried about by the wind. He knows the first thing, but not the sequel to it. He regulates what is internal in himself, but not what is external to himself. If he had intelligence enough to be entirely unsophisticated, and by doing nothing to seek to return to the normal simplicity, embodying the instincts of his nature, and keeping his spirit as it were in his arms, so enjoying himself in the common ways, you might then indeed be afraid of him!

But what should you and I find in the arts of the embryonic time, worth our knowing? Kun Mang 38 , on his way to the ocean, met with Yuan Fung 38 on the shore of the eastern sea, and was asked by him where he was going. I will enjoy myself, rambling by it. I should like to hear from you about sagely government. Wherever their hands are pointed and their looks directed, from all quarters the people are all sure to come to do what they desire :—this is what is called government by sages.

The reply was, 'Under the government of the virtuous, when quietly occupying their place , they have no thought, and, when they act, they have no anxiety; they do not keep stored in their minds what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad. They share their benefits among all within the four seas, and this produces what is called the state of satisfaction; they dispense their gifts to all, and this produces what is called the state of rest.

The people grieve on their death like babies who have lost their mothers, and are perplexed like travellers who have lost their way. They have a superabundance of wealth and all necessaries, and they know not whence it comes; they have a sufficiency of food and drink, and they know not from whom they get it:—such are the appearances under the government of the kindly and virtuous. The reply was, 'Men of the highest spirit-like qualities mount up on the light, and the limitations of the body vanish. This we call being bright and ethereal.

The author claimed its teachings derived from revelations given to his ancestor Ko Hsuan in the early 3rd century. In the Ling pao Ching, the Tao is personified in its uncreated manifestations, the "celestial worthies" t'ien-tsun , which were worshipped through a group of liturgies. Each of the worthies represented a different aspect of the Tao, and its worship was designed accordingly.

This mode of worship became central to Taoist practice in the 5th century CE. These texts enumerate methods for attaining immortality, such as alchemy, special diets, and sexual activity. Toggle navigation. Wayne W. The penalties range from days lopped off for a minor offense to 12 years for serious evil—whereas good deeds will make one a terrestrial immortal, capable of healing and helping others, and 1, good deeds, a celestial immortal. Good deeds can be as simple as printing and distributing free copies of the Tractate or other shan-shu, folk manuals of religious ritual and devotion, or as elaborate as building hospitals and orphanages or other charitable works.

Taoist Views on Karma

Another popular symbol is the burning of paper money, created expressly for his purpose, in furnaces located just outside a temple. Following the Chinese metaphor of heavenly and underworld bureaucracy, the paper money is thought to be deposited in the underworld bank, where its interest can pay off corrupt officials and pay for atonement of wrongs in hell. The faithful were also advised against urinating in a northerly direction the realm of the spirits or spitting at a falling star. Despite, or because of, its mundane nature, the Tractate is perhaps the most influential religious book among the Chinese masses to this day, whether in mainland or maritime China or the large overseas Chinese community.

Carl Jung, who wrote a lengthy commentary to the German translation, is responsible for introducing this work to the West. By no means were they all written by Confucius, although he did have a hand at least in editing a number of them. Tao Tsang A large body of Taoist writings, much of it esoteric, makes up the basis of Taoist doctrine.